Prime Minister Abe Shinzo expressed his zealous will to amend the Constitution in a review meeting held during recess of the Budget Committees of the both Houses (November 10 and 11). He approved to incorporate a clause on ‘national exigency’ to revise the Constitution. That means a dangerous breakthrough to undermine Article Nine: all the state powers might be concentrated to Prime Minister and the rights of people should be restricted ruthlessly.
GOVERNMENT’S PLAN TO AMEND ARTICLE NINE OF CONSTITUION
Debates on national contingency have been held to arrange legislation. In May, 2004, three political parties, namely the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the Democratic Party of Japan and the Komeito, agreed on the guidelines for Basic Law on National Emergency and exchanged memoranda for successful enactment.
Restriction of People’s Rights
Lately in 2012 the LDP incorporated into their draft to amend the Constitution new Articles 98 and 99 which state on national contingencies. The LDP has proposed several times to debate contingencies and emergencies, and in May this year ‘contingencies’ and ‘the right on environment’ were put on agenda in the meetings of the Constitution Examination Committee of the House of Representatives. What is clear is that the government is to prepare a step forward to demand amendment of the Constitution.
In Article 98 of the LDP’s text national emergency represents ‘armed attacks from a foreign country’, ‘disturbance of social order, like civil riots’, ‘large-scale natural disaster, like earthquakes’ and ‘other contingencies provided by laws’. It continues to say that Prime Minister should declare state of emergency in case of necessity.
Article 99 specifies instructions and financial steps imposed on the leadership of municipalities, the Diet’s approval after the declaration and restriction of dissolution of the House of Representatives during the time of declared emergency. The same article specifies, in particular, for measures related to ‘lives and physical safety of people and their property’, that ‘they must follow orders given by the state and other public authorities’. In short, the rights of people should be limited.
Legislation on various emergencies covers Articles 71 and 74 of National Police Act and Articles 105 and 106 of the Basic Law on Natural Disaster Response. Article 10 of the Basic Law on Nuclear Power Disaster Management sets forth procedures to emergency situations, too. Article 76 of the Self Defense Forces Act stipulates on armed attacks from a foreign country in the context of defense mobilization and Articles 78 and 81 put down on security mobilization. Every one of them is not perfect and some are not acceptable. A problem, however, lies in a point that Prime Minister Abe wants laws that should enable him to have totalitarian authority after his announcement of emergency.
An ‘emergency’ of severe accident at the Fukhsima nuclear plant was caused by the LDP-led administrations. The ruling party has promoted nuclear industry as a state policy and failed in establishing safety procedures. Before the situation at Fukushima plant has not yet settled down, the government let the Kyushu Electric Power Co. take initiative to resume operation at the Sendai Power Plant, disregarding dangers and lacking in the appropriate evacuation policy.
It is the Abe administration that accelerates polices to yield ‘emergencies’: it persistently stirs up the problem on the Senkaku Islands, which had been shelved up in the agreement with China, and creates tensions with Republic of Korea and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in terms of postwar compensations and views on the modern history.
Look at Okinawa!
Responses to various contingencies should rely on, as the state’s principle, rearrangements of existing laws, planning and preparations of towns and villages to be disaster-proof and peace diplomacy based on Article Nine of the Constitution. You can clearly see the real posture of the government, the Ministry of Defense and police authority in the contingencies: how do they oppress residents of Henoko, Okinawa, during their actions against construction of a new base off the coast of city and deny their right of autonomy? How did they disregard the Diet at the time of passing the war legislation?
The Abe government cannot be allowed to endorse perilous laws on national emergencies.
December 1, 2015